tv Forensic Files CNN June 27, 2014 1:00am-1:31am PDT
you can try to outrun it but it's always going to be there. >> no matter how much you know and you can watch all those tv shows, there's always something new. and by golly, there's things we still don't know about and they'll get you. up next, a woman goes missing, and her family thinks it's foul play. >> michele wasn't going to take off and leave her kids. you know? >> investigators learn some of her friends have shady pasts. >> he had been convicted of rape and attempted murder in arizona. >> but without a body, police have no solid clues until a suspect makes a tiny mistake. >> he had gotten a call that they may have possibly found a body or something near his property. and he says, that's not possible. but wait a minute. what do you mean that's not possible?
>> on a cool september morning in the small town of owego in upstate new york, cal harris woke early as he usually did to help get his two children ready for school and get to work. harris owned several large car dealerships in town, but on this morning, he discovered his wife hadn't returned home from her waitressing job the night before. that wasn't entirely surprising. the two were leading separate lives. and were planning a divorce. >> she was only staying at the house for the children sleeping on the couch in the living room. >> cal told police michele sometimes went out after work, but staying out all night was unusual. >> michele was home every night. you know, wanted to see the kids before they went to school in the morning.
so we were all very alarmed. >> michele's van was found a half mile from the house along a driveway on their huge estate. the keys were still in the ignition, but none of this necessarily indicated foul play. >> he figured she met somebody at the end of the driveway to go drinking. left the van there and left with that person. and just hasn't come back yet. >> we found no blood. no damage to the vehicle. >> and police found nothing suspicious inside the home. >> we could look wherever we wanted and we checked every room of the house. we didn't notice anything out of line. >> troopers and search dogs even scuba divers searched the harris' 250 acre property which presented more than the usual challenges. >> there's a large number of latent wells. so we brought in an underwater camera and searched all those wells as we were doing the organized searches in the woods.
>> they had helicopters. they had divers in the lake. nothing, no clothing, no blood, no bones, no nothing. they found literally no trace of her outside of that house. >> police traced michele's whereabouts for the night before. michele worked at a local restaurant and co-workers said she left when her shift ended at 9 p.m. but she didn't leave alone. she left with one of the cooks, michael headaches. >> police investigators interview hakes. he tells them that he said good-bye to michele in the parking lot and that that was the last time he ever saw her. >> the surveillance tapes from the restaurant parking lot couldn't confirm this, but hakes had an alibi. he said he left the restaurant and went directly to his girlfriend's house.
>> and we went back to her. did mr. hakes ever ask you to make up an alibi for him or to lie to the police? she said no, that he came here after work that night, he stayed all night. >> hakes' girlfriend told police he arrived there around 9:45 p.m., but if he left the restaurant at 9:00 p.m. and his girlfriend lived only 15 minutes away, there was a 30-minute period he couldn't account for. then a background check revealed a startling piece of information. >> michael hakes had been convicted of rape and attempted murder in arizona and served ten years in the arizona state prison for that. and he had been out of prison for about one year as of that time. >> hakes' employers at the restaurant didn't know he was a registered sex offender, and apparently neither did michele harris. >> we were convinced right away that something untoward had happened.
all they knew was that she failed to return home from her waitressing job, and her abandoned car was discovered a half mile from her home. michele left the restaurant with a co-worker, michael hakes, a convicted sex offender, although no one knew he had a felony conviction at the time. when analyzing michele's van, criminalists found two different sets of fingerprints on the driver's side door. >> that's something of great significance to a case. >> the fingerprints did not match michele's co-worker michael hakes. so police searched michele's cell phone records. and they revealed a man named brian early called michele on the night she disappeared. >> he had left a message for her, asking her to stop by his place. >> brian early and michele harris had been dating for the past year.
he had recently moved from philadelphia to upstate new york so he could be closer to michele. >> she certainly saw a great deal of him, and they had both had very strong feelings, and they were taking concrete steps to move forward. >> when police questioned brian, he admitted seeing michele the night she disappeared but said she left his apartment around 11:00 p.m. >> he walks her out to the car, kisses her good night and she leaves in her van, and that's the last time he ever saw her. >> and that as far as anyone knows is the last time she was seen alive. >> fingerprint technicians identified brian early's prints as the ones on michele's car door. but brian early said this was consistent with his story. that he leaned in through the window to kiss michele good night and he insisted this took place in his apartment's parking lot. although brian was the last known person to see michele
alive, police also had to consider the possibility michele's estranged husband was somehow involved. michele and cal were going through a divorce, one that would be very costly to him. >> cal harris owned six car dealerships. the car dealerships were very successful. >> cal made a settlement offer of three quarts of a million dollars which was rejected. and shortly before michele's disappearance, the divorce court ordered an independent valuation of cal's business. the valuation alone would cost him $30,000. >> i think when had he gotten the certified letter of the $30,000 for the cpa, he was furious. >> cal harris also had a history. to his neighbors, it was hardly a secret. >> we saw the side of him in his
past relationships where there was incidents of domestic violence and controlling behavior. >> so police asked cal harris, michele's boyfriend, brian early, and the cook at the restaurant, michael hakes, to take polygraph examinations. one of them refused. ...because it was easier to smoke than it was to quit. along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. it's a non-nicotine pill. chantix reduced the urge for me to smoke. it actually caught me by surprise. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these, stop chantix and see your doctor right away as some could be life threatening. tell your doctor if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems, or if you develop new
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when police asked michele harris's boyfriend of brian early to take a polygraph test, he willingly complied. he passed the exam anytime we needed him for dna, fingerprints, additional questions, no problem. >> the cook at the restaurant, michael hakes, a convicted sex offender, also took a polygraph examination. he too passed. but the lawyer for michele's estranged husband cal harris adamantly refused to allow him to take the polygraph. at least the one administered by police. >> we obtained a warrant and put a gps on his vehicle. and he went to another part of the state and took a polygraph test. the private investigator that he hired took him out to that test. >> then cal harris said something unusual to
investigators. it was something he said about michele's van. >> he says, "well, i've got to get it back to the dealer. i want to get it detailed and clean and put back on the lot." >> in other words, cal planned to sell michele's van as soon as possible. >> it just didn't sit right. >> some of michele's friends told police that cal had threatened michele in his anger over the upcoming divorce. >> cal said, you know, if i wanted to kill you, i don't need a gun to kill you. and if i do kill you, they'll never find you. >> she was quite vocal in her abject terror of calvin and what he would ultimately do to prevent their divorce. >> michele told her family that the only reason she stayed in the house was that she would lose custody of her children if she moved out. >> then they'd have gotten her for abandonment, the divorce judge or the one that handled it and said that she had to stay there.
>> michele and cal first met when michele got a job at one of cal's car dealerships. they had been married for 11 years, and there were problems from the start. >> he had cheated on her many times. then he would say, well, let's go to a marriage counselor. then so she would show up at the marriage counselor and he wouldn't show up. >> friends said cal's need to control the relationship was all-consuming and divorce didn't fit into that scheme. >> on september 11th, many areas of cal's life were out of his control. his wife was out of his control. the children were out of his control. and for a person of his temperament, we have to imagine that was pretty unbearable. and on september 12th, all those areas are back under his control. >> investigators had done a cursory search of the house the day michele went missing. now, three days later, they sent
in forensic examiners. again, nothing seemed amiss. until they stepped into the kitchen. and saw what appeared to be tiny drops of blood on the wall. >> the apparent bloodstains that i saw were roughly a millimeter in size and then there was on the one door molding, there was like an upside down u-shaped pattern that had a void in the center. >> these u-shaped patterns are formed when water is mixed with blood causing the edge of the stain to dry faster. >> that was indicative of a potential clean-up. >> the size of the bloodstains that hadn't been cleaned was even more telling. this was medium velocity blood spatter which results from an object striking a body more than
once with extreme force. >> with a beating or a kicking type of death, you're going to see the medium velocity bloodstain or impact spatter. >> when investigators turned over a throw rug in the hallway next to the kitchen, they found even more blood. no weapon was discovered, but investigators found more evidence of a clean-up in the garage. >> you had indications of a directional force having wiped the floor because you have blood pushed underneath one edge of the paint chips and not the others. >> dna testing showed it was michele's blood. >> we confirmed that with the use of a toothbrush to get michele harris' known dna profile. >> this is starting to paint a picture of what could have happened to her. >> except an important piece of that picture was missing. the body of michele harris. and without a body, taking this
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>> i cannot accurately provide you with an estimate of the original amount of blood that was there. we're dealing with what was left over. >> the only question was, where was her body? her estranged husband cal harris had a motive. >> their upcoming divorce was going to be very costly to him. and he made numerous incriminating statements to friends. >> he was at a family picnic after she had disappeared. they had gotten a call that they may have possibly found a body or something near his property. and he says, that's not possible. wait a minute. what do you mean that's not possible? >> as the search for michele's body continued, cal went on with his life. within days, he sold michele's clothes and kept seeing his girlfriend. >> he asked that girlfriend to come to his house on the night of michele's birthday at the end
of september, and she was afraid that michele was going to come home, and he said don't worry. she's not coming home. >> investigators found no blood on or in any of the family's vehicles. coincidentally, cal had his truck washed at his car dealership the day michele went missing. but if cal did it, how did he get michele's body out of the house? >> he could have put her in a garbage bag or wrapped her in a blanket. again, we don't know. >> although prosecutors arrested cal harris and charged him with michele's murder, they waited several years before bringing the case to trial. they feared the defense would argue that michele was still alive. >> we wanted to take away that argument from the defense that you know, for all we know, she's not even dead. >> it was difficult for michele's family to deal with
cal while he was out on bail awaiting trial. >> we'd get the grandkids for birthday parties and stuff, and he could never look you straight in the face, would never make eye contact with you or anything like that. almost tells you he's involved with it somehow. >> despite a lack of evidence, one fact was inescapable. >> cal was the one person that had something to gain from michele not being here. >> even without a body, prosecutors were convinced michele's spattered blood could prove she had been killed. >> even if it's not the strongest case in the world, it deserves to be tried. we owe it to her. we owe it to her family. >> prosecutors believe cal was in the kitchen when he heard michele's van coming into the garage. and he may have been angry after learning the divorce court ordered an independent valuation of his business that would cost him $30,000.
when michele walked inside, cal attacked. hitting her at least twice with a blunt object. producing the blood spatter found on the kitchen floor. blood spatter on the molding showed he hit her at least once more while she was on the ground. the evidence shows he carried michele into the garage where she bled onto the concrete floor. prosecutors believe he placed her body into a plastic bag and then put her in the back of his truck. and buried her somewhere on their huge property. back at the house, he drove her van to the edge of the driveway over a half mile away. and left it there. investigators think he wanted to get the van farther away but didn't want to risk anyone seeing him walking home which would be hard to explain.
once he got back in the kitchen, he tried to clean the blood. but there was simply too much. >> the blood pointed to where the crime scene was. the crime scene was under the control of cal harris. >> for somebody who wanted everything in order, he was the one who cleaned up that blood. he didn't do a good job of doing it. >> when cal harris stood trial, he took the stand in his own defense. >> when he couldn't make his testimony fit with the testimony of all the witnesses that had testified in the case, he basically accused them of being liars. that they lied about critical facts in the case just to fabricate a case against him. >> the jury also learned that cell phone records showed cal never called michele's cell phone on the morning she went missing. >> other times when she stayed out too late or she didn't come
home, there would be a volley of phone calls to her cell phone telling her to get home. >> i'm more inclined to think that it was planned out, that he had thought about how he could do it, where he could do it, and where he would put the body. >> cal harris was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. >> i don't know if they would have gone to trial without the blood. but after hearing everything that i heard, i don't know that the outcome would have been any different. they keep wanting a change of venue. i think it could have been tried in egypt and with the amount of evidence that the state police had gathered and the way that keene presented it, they'd have found him guilty anyplace. >> sadly, michele's body has never been found. >> we'll always look for her. we still receive teletypes.
michele's dna and dental records are entered into international databases. people still call in with tips and theories, and we talk to everybody. psychics still call us with ideas so the state police will always look into where michele harris is. up next, a nursing student disappears. >> it is really a mystery as to where she vanished. >> and her ex-boyfriend is the prime suspect. >> i'm telling the police, i'd really like you to take a look at him. >> but without a body, is there even a case? >> you don't have a crime yet. what is the crime? >> the only real set of clues is the keys. the trick to investigators is finding out which door they might open. >> the keys are a mystery at this point. ♪ ever sie